Dramatic COVID-19 spike concerns Reid Health officials
Hospital reminds visitors about restrictions
Reid Health and regional health officials are "extremely concerned" about a "dramatic rise" in positive coronavirus cases, including a jump in hospitalizations that - if it continues - could quickly overwhelm bed capacity.
The number of
hospitalized patients with confirmed or suspected COVID leaped to 61 as of Monday,
which is only three below the highest number of 64 in late April/early May. "Other
health systems in Indiana are already coping with this wave. Many of these
patients are among our most vulnerable populations. This is extremely
concerning," said Thomas Huth, M.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs at Reid
Health. With an average of 30 admissions from the Emergency Department every
day, Reid officials are gravely concerned the health system will have to
curtail other necessary health services to provide capacity for an increasing
caseload - as had to be done at the beginning of the pandemic.
precautions of social distancing and masking are vitally important right now,"
Dr. Huth said, noting that health officials believe "pandemic fatigue" has led to people growing lax or totally
ignoring mandates designed to prevent a surge from reoccurring. Outbreaks in
nursing homes in the area are a factor, he said, but outbreaks are also
reported from community, family and church gatherings.
patients hospitalized because of outbreaks in long-term care facilities, Dr.
Huth emphasized the importance of those who are at less risk still carefully
following precautions. The people in these facilities were already isolated -
so the virus had to be brought to them from likely younger, less at-risk
workers or visitors. Some of these people were likely not as vigilant about
masks, hand-washing and distancing. "Anyone, even those who aren't as at risk
of severe illness, need to act as if they are to protect the more vulnerable,
older population around them."
"The proven precautions of social distancing and masking are vitally important right now." -- Dr. Thomas Huth
protect patients and staff, Reid Health is tightening visitor
restrictions immediately. The guidelines include:
- Limit to one visitor per "non-COVID" inpatient per day - this is not "interchangeable," which means families are encouraged to have a designated person to fill this role and communicate electronically otherwise. Reid has iPads available to assist with this.
- No visitors for COVID patients; technology will be used to promote interaction with family. Exceptions will be made for end-of-life and other select situations. Full details are available at ReidHealth.org/safe.
- Limit to one visitor in Reid Health Physician Associates offices - no same-day re-entry.
- Stringent enforcement of masking and social distancing for staff and visitors, including continuing to require visitors to mask at all times in public spaces and when not distancing in patient rooms.
- Security checkpoints requiring legal I.D.
families want to see their loved one in person, but we also know the risks of
COVID-19 to our patients, staff and their families. We appreciate everyone's cooperation
with these guidelines to hopefully turn this trend downward in the face of this
clear surge," Dr. Huth said.
Dr. Huth has
tracked COVID-19 statistics since the pandemic began and also leads a bi-weekly
call with health departments in eastern Indiana and western Ohio. Almost all
counties in the region are marking an upward trend in positive COVID-19 cases. A
major concern going forward is cooler weather keeping people indoors, "which
means a higher likelihood of closer contact in less ventilated locations," Dr.
precautions of distancing and masking have been proven to work well, he said,
despite numerous arguments and erroneous information about the effectiveness of
the guidelines. He often shares an example from another state of a beauty salon
where two employees worked a week while unknowingly positive with COVID-19.
Because the salon was vigorous with masking of staff and clients, none of their
customers caught the virus.
masks are more effective when everyone wears them, but are especially helpful
in keeping someone with the virus from passing it to others," Dr. Huth said.
"At least 40 percent of the people who have the virus have no symptoms but can
give it to others through their breath when they talk, cough, sneeze or simply
breathe in and out. Wearing a mask helps keep this from happening."
continues to cite the double-risk of flu season combining with the pandemic,
noting the flu vaccine this year is as important as it has ever been
because it's possible to have both at the same time. The health system has
already seen a case of someone with both flu and COVID-19, he noted. Some Reid Health primary care offices are
offering curbside flu clinics for existing patients - others also offer the
vaccine in visits. "I encourage everyone to check with their providers about
getting their flu shot as soon as possible."
the guidelines to prevent COVID-19 also can help reduce the spread of flu, he
said. So masking, distancing and other measures along with a flu vaccine are
the best way to protect the most at-risk populations. "Even if you're not at
high risk of complications from COVID-19, take precautions anyway - you have
other people in your life who are at high risk who could get the virus from
you. So resolve to protect them by being careful yourself."
He said most
positive cases can be traced to unprotected contact with someone else who was
positive - often without knowing it.
encourages everyone to follow the guidelines for masking and social distancing,
- Avoid going to places where the guidelines are not followed or enforced.
- Get a flu shot.
- Don't let up in practicing social distancing and masking.
- Apply the guidelines to family gatherings and limit them in size.
not a fan of reinstituting lockdowns or shutdowns because of the drastic
effects that produce their own serious human consequences," he said. "But if
health systems become at risk from being overwhelmed as infections increase,
these may be necessary. It's up to all of us to keep it that way by remaining
vigilant with precautions."